This coming Sunday is no ordinary Sunday. If you haven’t heard, there is a scheduled sporting event that consumes a large percentage of the American population.
The “Big Game”.
The championship of a sport that consumes a large percentage of the American population for roughly five months out of the year.
Football. The Superbowl.
In this house, we are among the football obsessed masses. Broncos Fans. We bleed orange.
And this year, we are going to the Superbowl!
And of course, that means a Superbowl party.
I am going to share with you a great Superbowl party menu and my thoughts on how to make the best hot wings, which are a must on game day, but first just a little background on how I came to be a Broncos fan.
Oh come on, Indulge me.
It is a bit Ironic that I am a Broncos fan as the Seahawks are also going to the Superbowl this year. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest by Seahawks fans, immersed in Seahawks culture. Some of my fondest memories of my dad center around the many Sundays we spent watching football together; the foam brick shaped “Hawk Block” being hurled at the TV over and over and over again - the Seahawks weren’t very good for a really, really long time.
And then the day came when I sought my independence, my freedom and I boldly confronted my father and informed him that from that day forward, I was officially going to be a Broncos fan. I offered the small concession that I would still root for the Seahawks too, unless of course, they were playing the Broncos.
Rebellion. Mutiny. Treason.
“A Broncos fan?! You can’t be a Broncos fan, you’ve never even been to Denver. And … they are in the same division as the Seahawks!”
“Yes, I can. I am a Broncos fan.”
“But why? Why the Broncos?”
And then I said this, “because they have a horse on their helmet and I like horses” and his face contorted into the strangest gaze as he slowly exhaled the breath from his body.
And so it was. On that day, I broke away, turned my back on all I had know and became a Broncos fan.
I’m sure my dad thought it was just one of about a million passing fancies but it was not. It stuck. To his credit, my dad made the most of it and a friendly rivalry developed, which, as it turned out, was even more fun than rooting for the same team. Especially since the Broncos were a whole lot better than the Seahawks.
Yes, I chose my team because they had a horse on their helmet. For what other reason would a young girl choose a team of her very own? Still, there is a bit more to it than that.
Truly, it was destiny.
The Big Guy knew that someday, I would meet and fall in love with the
most fanatical most devoted Broncos fan ever to walk the earth. It would not be my charm, quick wit or perfect apple pie that would win his heart; no, in the end it would be my Elway jersey.
Just yesterday, we celebrated 18 years of marriage. Love, commitment, hard work and a united front on the field of play (well, at least on the couch watching the field of play). Friends, that is the secret to making a marriage work. It is okay, even expected, to have a rivalry with your dad but with your husband it is best to root for the same team. And it is ALWAYS best to root for the Broncos.
So there you have it. A Broncos fan not by birth but by choice.
I am proud to say that we have been able to properly influence at least part of the next generation.
Connor, my first born nephew, my first baby love.
He’s had my heart from the moment I laid eyes on his pink wrinkly self and he just keeps charming his way into my heart. Like at the age of three when he told his mom he wanted to wear makeup so he could be “pretty like Aunt Dani”. Sweet, smart boy. I can share that story with you because I guarantee without doubt that not one of his friends reads my blog. And because his mom said I could so if it scars him, it’s her fault.
And then, a few summers ago when he came down for a visit and asked me to teach him how to make a soufflé. We made two, blue cheese and chocolate.
Come to think of it though, it was on that same visit the he ditched me at the mall, giving me the first indication that I was no longer completely “cool”. Apparently a 14 year old boy shopping with his aunt is style cramping and just not done. What is even more sad is that I actually did not expect it.
I still thought I was cool.
Imagine my shock; “seriously, you don’t want to shop with me? Or be seen with me?” Luckily, he left me feeling old and uncool right in front of the Forever 21 store so I could pop in there and feel better about myself. [sarcasm]
Not to worry though, all has been forgiven because with no undue influence, bribery or coercion, my sweet, smart, awesome nephew has chosen to be a Broncos fan. All on his own. All by himself. No undue influence. None.
And low and behold, my niece Alex, Connor’s little sister (she’s on the right), has also chosen the to walk in the light. In fact, she and the friend pictured here with her wore their full Broncos gear to school on “Seahawk Day”. From what I hear, the school administration frowned on this anti-Seahawk treachery. Whatever. That’s my girl! I’m just so proud. Upon further examination of this photo, I believe that is actually just one pair of Broncos socks and they are sharing. Sharing socks. Still, I’m proud.
She likes horses too. In fact, I chased her escapee pony through razor sharp wheat field stubble more than once. In shorts. But she’s cute and I love her and she’s a Broncos fan so I hardly notice the scars on my shins. [complete exaggeration] Or the sock sharing.
Colin, Brenton and Grace I love you too and will mail Broncos jerseys to you when you come to your senses and realize you are really Broncos fans.
So, readers, if you actually read all of that and didn’t skip ahead, bless you. I am pretty sure that you are ready for me to get to the food. I know Connor is, if for no other reason than to be certain I don’t pull out anymore
embarrassing cute stories. Oh, I’ve got plenty but for now, we’ll just move on to talking wings.
How to Make the Best Hot Wings
Hot wings are pretty much a game day must but not all wings are created equal.
Personally, I am extremely picky about wings. Mostly because I don’t like to eat chicken off the bone. It truly gives me the heebies. In fact, the thought of eating a drumstick makes me break out into a cold sweat. Really, it does; you know I am not at all prone to exaggeration.
Wings are smaller so I can eat them if they are crispy. And I mean CRISPY. C.R.I.S.P.Y. As in not one teeny tiny, itty bitty little bit of fatty smooshyness. Yes, I am using a made up word. It is the only way I can accurately depict the absolute grossness (that might be made up too) of biting into a soggy wing. Cold sweat shudder.
So, now that you are hungry for wings, lets get to it.
This isn’t really a recipe as much as it is a preference of technique. I hate to be the one to tell you this but the best way – by far – to make hot wings is to fry them. Deep fry them in HOT oil.
Why do I hate to tell you this? Because it is messy. And a bit tedious. And somewhat perilous. But in the end, oh so worth it.
While it is far easier to just throw a bag of pre-sauced, pre-cooked frozen wings into the oven and heat them up and it may seem healthier to bake homemade wings, there is NO WAY to ensure an acceptable level of crispiness in the oven. And I for one, just cannot risk the horror of biting into a mushy wing. Really, I’ve got to stop talking about it.
Also, they just don’t taste as good.
So, let the frying begin.
Start with fresh chicken wings from the meat counter. You can buy raw frozen wings that have already been prepped but I really prefer the fresh whole wings as they have less moisture and fry up better.
Crazy enough, I can’t stomach the though of eating (let’s just call them gross as to avoid anymore unfortunate made up words) a gross wing but I have no problem dispatching a whole wing into “hot wing” parts. Not grossed out a bit.
I like to use a very sharp, heavy chef’s knife. First, remove the tip of the wing. I put the tips in a baggie and then freeze them so I can add them to the pot the next time I make chicken stock. Next, pull the wing gently open and carefully run your knife between the two parts, cutting through the soft spot at the edge of the joint, separating the two pieces.
Once they are all separated, pat the wings dry.
If you are using frozen wings, be sure they are completely thawed and all of the excess moisture is patted off. If they are too wet, you are going to have just a bit of excitement when you put them in the hot oil. Dangerous excitement.
Speaking of oil, this is by far the number one tip I can offer. Do NOT fill your pot too full with oil. If you do, it will bubble over which is messy and dangerous. I fill a enameled cast iron pot about 2/3 full with canola or vegetable oil and then heat the oil on med-high heat to 380 degrees.
Use a candy thermometer for an accurate temperature and adjust your heat up or down as needed.
If you don’t have a kitchen spider, I highly recommend getting one as it is the perfect tool for removing the wings and draining the oil off of them quickly. I use mine for all sorts of things.
I gently place the wings into the hot oil with a long pair of metal tongs that keep me a safe distance from the pot. DO NOT drop, plop or toss the wings in, think careful and gentle. On that note, it is also a good idea to use a back burner if possible and to keep the kids and pets out of the kitchen just to be extra safe. You can never be too safe or cautious with hot oil.
Fry the wings in small batches, about five at a time, for 6-7 minutes. I have seen recommended cooking times anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes but 6-7 seems to work best for crispy, juicy wings. Carefully remove the wings with your spider.
Place the wings on paper towels to absorb any residual oil. If you are doing a lot of wings, you can keep the cooked ones warm on a sheet tray in a 250 degree oven while you finish up the remaining batches.
When you are done frying, it is time to get those wings dressed for the party. Traditional wing sauce is a cayenne pepper based sauce. We like Frank’s RedHot and follow the recipe right on the back of the bottle, with just a couple of tweaks.
For 2 1/2 pounds of wing pieces you will want to mix 1/2 cup of hot sauce with 1/3 cup of melted butter. I just put both the butter and the sauce in a small saucepan and heat them up together on the stove over medium heat. Once the butter is melted I add a pinch of salt and several twists of the pepper grinder. I don’t know if it really matters that much but I add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper to everything. Even my bath water. Not really but I’m thinking maybe I should try it. You can also add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to taste for extra heat.
Whisk everything together (except the bath water) and incorporate well. Pour the wing sauce over the wings and toss well to coat.
Serve them with celery and carrot sticks, any extra wing sauce and blue cheese or ranch dressing.
After you’ve enjoyed the game and the most amazing wings, you’ll wander back into the kitchen happy (because the Broncos won) and full only to face the pot of used chicken oil mocking you from the stove.
Not to worry, click here for tips on re-using or disposing of the oil.
That’s it! I hope you will give these wings a try for your game day festivities and of course, I hope you’ll be rooting for the Broncos.
I will share another game day appetizer and the rest of my Superbowl Party Menu and plans with you in the next few days.
Oh, and for all you 49ers fans out there, we welcome you brothers and sisters.
Even if for only one game.